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Trivial Matters

Written by Sarah Murphy, TE Instructional Coach

Working for a system of high-performing charter schools is an exhilarating, challenging, and incredibly rewarding process.  Endless hours of planning, collaborating, observing, conversing, and strategizing make up the days in the life of this Teaching Excellence Instructional Coach, and I would not have it any other way.  Conversely, those same hours of working in order to make sure that the teachers I support are über-prepared to shape the minds and futures of the children of the city of Houston can be draining. True statement: working to do what we do as well as we do it can be mentally and physically exhausting. So, how do you persist? How do we, as a Teaching Excellence Team, continue to do the work which we do at the level of intensity at which it is done?

There are a myriad of factors which make me love the work that I do, but there is one upon which I want to focus: team.  In addition to the passion which I feel for the mission of the schools which we support, I thrive and love what I do thanks to the people with whom I work.  I work with the Teaching Excellence Team: a group of individuals full of grace, ingenuity, passion, heart, and creativity.  A group of individuals with whom I have formed such a connection, such a bond, such a deep amount of respect for that I regularly seek to see them outside of working hours.  Specifically, I see them on our Pub Trivia team, the Persons of Interest.  Once a week, my colleagues and I gather to answer questions on a variety of topics, ranging from the ridiculous to highly rigorous, and that time each week is precious.  We scramble to find the best answer, rack our brains to pull minutia from the recesses of our minds all in an effort to contribute to trivia glory.  We have made team stickers.  We have made ourselves into a dynasty.  And we have made ourselves into something more than co-workers.  This might all appear rather silly and trite to you.  Seem petty. Small. Dare I say even a little bit trivial? (see what I did there?)  However, the fact that I am privileged and fortunate enough to work on a team with brilliant, sharp, competitive individuals with a hunger for knowledge and continuous improvement humbles and blesses me each day.  Inspires me each day.  Challenges me each day.  And nothing about that seems trivial at all.

Sarah is 2005 graduate of Texas A&M University, where she majored in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on English and History.  After college, Sarah began teaching 7th Grade Writing at Waller Junior High.  During her 3 year stint at WJH, Sarah taught 7th Grade Writing, College Prep, and Creative Writing.  In her second year, Sarah was recognized as Language Arts Teacher of the Year.  While attending a Foo Fighters concert, Sarah became acquainted with YES Prep thanks to some amazing students who were fundraising for their service trip to India.  She knew that she had to be part of such an amazing school system which did such phenomenal things for students.  Since joining the YES Prep East End campus in 2008, Sarah has taught both 6th grade ELA and 8th Grade ELA as well as serving as English Department Head and 6th Grade ELA Course Leader.  Sarah joined the Teaching Excellence Team in 2010 as an Instructional Coach.  Sarah enjoys closing the achievement gap, cheering silently, and creating awesome puns.



3 thoughts on “Trivial Matters

  1. Awesome that TE started a blog :). I love that this focuses on team. Anytime someone asks me what it’s like to work for YES – after I’m done gushing, smiling ’till my cheeks hurt at the reminder of my good fortune, and making sure they hear me say challenging – my answer always comes back to an intense appreciation for the level of teamwork and support surrounding the system.

    It’s great to know that there are so many strong teams within YES, and that we can all come together as one giant force as well :).

    Posted by nausheenfarishta | February 29, 2012, 6:20 pm
  2. Read your article and really loved it. My partners and I are building a new iPhone app based off trivia and quizbowl that has social at its heart. Many times we have discussed the team aspect and the camaraderie of those whom you play with. Early on we wondered why so many people get together in different places (bars, restaurants, etc.) to play trivia and we kept going back to the social aspects of the game. We would love for you to check out our game once it launches and give us your feedback and thoughts. We have a team aspect we’re working on as well that we’d love your feedback on.

    You can signup for early access at and or email me at joey @

    Posted by Joey Nelson | March 1, 2012, 10:08 am

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